by Barbara B. Kennelly, NCPSSM President/CEO

Many a cynic said it couldn’t be done. But last night the House and Senate compromised on an economic stimulus package that improved with time. Thanks to the foresight and hard-fought efforts of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Senator John Kerry and others who took up the cause, more than 20 million seniors who otherwise would have been excluded will now receive stimulus checks.

When the talk of an economic stimulus plan first began, it was clear that once again seniors would be ignored in any Washington efforts to jump-start the economy. The same had happened in 2001 and 2003, so this administration’s blind spot to seniors really wasn’t a surprise.

But this year was clearly different. American seniors are sick and tired of policies that have left them with dwindling COLA’s, skyrocketing healthcare costs and massive budget cuts in programs they desperately need. They’re feeling the pinch of this economy as much as anyone so the suggestion that a retired person living on $3,000 of Social Security doesn’t need or deserve an economic boost as much as someone earning $70,000 was the proverbial last straw.

Congress heard from America’s retirees on this one because the fundamental unfairness of ignoring more than 20 million seniors in a stimulus plan, which was supposed to be “timely, targeted, and temporary”, could not be ignored. National Committee members visited, emailed and called their Congressional representatives. In all, there were more than 3,000 contacts to Capitol Hill made by NCPSSM members and supporters in a just a couple of weeks.

Grassroots efforts still work. Individual voices raised together can get Washington’s attention. Something we should all remember during this election can be sure your members of Congress do.